Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Day In The Life

Yes, we are WAY overdue for some blog posts. Last time we checked in, I was slightly less-than-enthused about returning full speed back to El Salvador. Or, in the words of my very wise little brother, "the honeymoon period is over."

Since then, things have been looking pretty great. But rather than tell you, I figured the best way would be to just show you.

Memena welcomes me back to El Salvador with an appropriate bouquet of vegetables... cilantro, brcooli, red pepper... the woman knows me so well.

Sorry folks. Nothing but blue skies and sunshine down here... hearing tales of Buffalo's horror 6-8ft simply makes me chuckle.

A good friend from capoeira moved to the United States a few weeks ago, and in his honor, some buddies through him a going away party ("despedida"). But not just any despedida... oh no. This is a part thrown by professional chefs, which means of all things, homemade sushi.

But seriously... homemade sushi.

Burro, in green, is one of the masterminds behind the whole affair. He also happens to be my neighbor... you might want to get a napkin to wipe that drool off your chin.

So this happened.

And this (that green spiral is perfectly prepared cucumber art)

And that was all she wrote...

This month Cristosal had two extraordinary staff additions with Susana Barrera (left) and Celia Medrano (right) joining the ranks. It is such an inspiration to be able to work alongside both Celia and Susana. Every day I learn more and more about the type of human rights advocate, and even the kind of woman, I want to be by watching them.

I also had my first gig as a professional translator! Here is a group working with CRISPAZ, a solidarity NGO here in El Salvador, with the two board members I translated for. What a neat opportunity to get to know another organization's work, and do good at the same time.

 What a small world it is! David Boeri from WBUR, NPR's Boston member station (and my go-to choice for Mass Pike traffic) came to El Salvador to speak with Cristosal staff on our work related to protecting victims of forced displacement caused by violence. I have no shame in admitting I was COMPLETELY star struck.

And the latest staff photo... that's all for now with more to come! 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Home Sweet Home?

In many ways you'd think coming back for a second year would be easier than the first. My clothes are already put away, I know my way around, my stomach is accustomed to the everyday bugs. But these first two weeks back have been the most difficult since I first arrived in San Salvador over a year ago.

The big difference is how much I'm willing to let myself fail. I remember when I first arrived. Every moment was unique. It was beautiful. It was a learning opportunity. I was risking something extraordinary, and so every success was a celebration, every setback a sign of positive change, of moving forward.

Despite my latest blog post, I have not been treating this second year as separate. I go to work at Cristosal with the highest of expectations. I come home and move on to the next thing - jump back into capoeira, clean my room, meet the roommates, go on adventures, re-embrace the Salvadoran diet, have everything handled. And predictably, it's exhausting.

I remember sitting in the sunshine during my first week in El Salvador, holding a small bowl of yogurt and fresh papaya. I remember savoring this odd, new fruit, and just listening, watching the flowers in the garden, feeling the warmth on my skin in the middle of October. I remember feeling filled up.

Now that I have a routine, places to be, things to do (and no "excuse" to slow down, to take things slow) those moments are few and far between. And now the trick is going to be to learn how to give myself the same grace period without the wonderful excuse of I just moved to a new country.

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